Scores matter. At university, we grade assignments as a percentage, and bracket degrees to indicate levels of attainment. In sport, matches are decided by scores and league tables are used to rank achievement. In work, salaries are a numerical indication of the value put on a person's role.
I'd been considering ways of recognising the out-of-class achievement of PR students, but did not want to create an alternative set of blogging awards. Besides, the existing awards were based on the subjective assessment of a panel of judges, and did not seem to me to reflect the wider picture.
The numbers are objective to the extent that they are independent and publicly available. All I'm doing is selecting UK PR students on full-time undergraduate or postgraduate courses and averaging their Klout and PeerIndex scores. The methodology is simple and transparent - and that is the only justification I'll make for it. (There's also no coaching involved: no current students knew of this league table before its launch, and my students are not required to blog and use Twitter as part of their course - though I do encourage them to.)
Klout in particular has been receiving much negative commentary based on its methods of calculating numbers and for its business model - but I don't seem much that's different from the contract we make with other players in the free world (Google, Facebook, WordPress etc). We allow them to learn much about us in return for a free service that's useful to us.
The attempt to measure influence is an important one to PR practitioners (it's the theme of Philip Sheldrake's new book). The #socialstudent ranking aims to encourage students to become aware of online reputation and influence and to showcase some outstanding talent (employers are continually asking me to recommend graduates).
It's a work in progress and we're still in the first half of the season, but the league table looks to me to be a promising concept and - let me be honest - a good way to draw attention to our online publication.